Just after announcing that it would turn off its 3G network by the end of 2024 to focus its investments and spectrum resources on further improving 4G customer experience and rolling out next-generation networks, Three UK has said it has overtaken rival EE in population coverage for 5G in the UK.
The Three 5G network is now available in more than 400 locations across more than 3,000 sites covering over 54% of the UK’s population, making it the country’s biggest and fastest 5G network. The roll-out is said to have been facilitated by a network transformation project valued at over £2bn.
Three UK also noted that its 5G customers can benefit from the UK’s fastest 5G speeds, independently verified by Ookla for the period Q3-Q4 2021. This is said to have been enabled by Three’s 5G spectrum portfolio, with the company claiming to be the only UK operator able to deliver a full 5G experience for its customers.
As it continues its roll-out of 5G networks across the country, the operator said it expects 5G to reach up to 35% of data usage by the end of 2022. In a Three UK study published in April 2022, Mobile Britain 2022, one of the key conclusions was that the desire for faster connectivity has been driven by more widely available 5G devices, with the number of 5G devices connecting to Three’s network quadrupling by the end of 2021 compared with a year earlier.
This 299% growth from December 2020 to December 2021 meant that 2.2 million 5G devices were connecting to the network. Also, 5G data carried on Three’s network was found to be more than double that of 3G – overtaking it for the first time.
As well as reaching the 5G landmark, Three UK said it was upgrading its 4G network with thousands of sites serving millions of customers, already able to benefit from speeds said to be up to 150% faster than previously available. A major 4G upgrade programme will take place over the next two years.
The network improvements are also said to support major growth in customer data consumption on the Three UK network, which now stands at almost 20GB a month, up 15% on the same time a year ago. The company added that data usage on its 5G home broadband network stood at 354GB a month.
David Hennessy, chief technology officer at Three UK, said: “We are relentlessly focused on delivering the UK’s biggest and fastest 5G network. Millions of mobile, business and home broadband customers across more than half of the UK’s population are able to access our superfast speeds, enabling them to live their digital lives to the fullest.”
Read more about UK 5G
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